I’m feeling rather cross with myself. If only I’d caught the bus yesterday, I would have already completed today’s walk and be further along the coast. Oh dear, I seem to take ages to get anywhere!
This morning, I must drive back to the parking place near the Wishing Stone. It’s a beautiful spot, and the sun is shining after a night of rain.
Mull looks under the weather, again. It seems to attract dark clouds like a magnet.
I head down the road, past the Wishing Stone and its ancient cairns.
Ah, this is lovely. The dark clouds from last night are drifting away, and the landscape is lit by a low, February sun.
Out in the Sound of Mull, I spot a really ugly boat. More like a raft than a ship. Must be some sort of fishing farm, I suppose.
Onwards. What a beautiful road this is.
I see something weird dangling from a tree. Turns out to be a stuffed toy with giant googly eyes. How did it get up there? At least 20 feet high, so someone must have hurled it into the air with great force. If it was a treasured toy, some poor child must see it hanging there every time they pass along this road.
Further along is a promontory – almost an island – dominated by a ruined building. I check my map. OS maps show the names of castles in a weird gothic script, for some reason. Hard to read without my glasses, but I think that ruin is called Caisteal nan Con.
Although the Morvern Peninsula is very empty, the 300 or so residents live, mainly, along the southern shore. So I pass a number of driveways and buildings. There’s even an old post box, stuck somewhat randomly in the middle of nowhere.
Down below the road, on my left, I spot an old cemetery with tomb stones enclosed inside a railing. My map suggest there was once a chapel here, but doesn’t mention the cemetery. It looks like the sort of private burial ground you sometimes find on large estates.
I pass a gated track, one that is well-equipped with a host of fire-fighting brooms.
During the long hot summer last year, Saddleworth Moor, just above Manchester, burned for more than 3 weeks . Sadly that fire seemed to have been started deliberately. I wonder how often they are troubled with forest fires here? And are they deliberate? It’s hard to believe that anybody would set out to destroy this beautiful woodland.
On my left I pass a farm. Rhemore, says my map.
The road has risen and is running a few hundred yards inland of the sea. I get a good view of the Isle of Mull ferry, heading back towards Lochaline. (I really must visit Mull one day.)
Oh, how wonderful to be walking in February in the sunshine. My landlady at the pub seemed surprised by the good weather, and said I was very lucky. Of course, I’m not really ‘lucky’, because I plan my trips based on the weather forecast. (One of the joys of retirement is being able to make last-minute plans!)
Ahead, across the Sound of Mull, I can see the brightly-coloured houses of Tobermory. Love that name.
A roadside mile-marker is set very low beside the road. It looks old, but newly painted. Only two and 1/4 miles to Bonnavoulin, it says.
Bonnavoulin? The name Bunavullin is printed in largish letters on my map, although everybody calls the place Drimnin. This plethora of names is very confusing, especially when trying to work out bus routes!
I pass another farm. Glenmorven Cottage, my map suggests. Looks bigger than a cottage to me. Maybe it’s been extended?
I notice moss growing profusely on the wall beside the road, forming a patchwork collection of little green cushions among the stones. They say when you see a lot of moss you know the air is very clean. This Morvern air must be especially pure.
I pass a church that isn’t marked on my map. Beside it is a war memorial, and a tarpaulin has been tied around the memorial with rope. Maybe to protect the inscription from the weather? Or maybe to protect the poppy wreaths?
The church has a bench and chairs on a little balcony outside, and I wonder if it’s been converted into a holiday home.
Here’s another pretty little waterfall beside the road…
… and here’s a bright roadworks cone. Why is it here?
The road swings round a curve, and I see a village ahead. That must be Drimnin, or Bonnavuolin according to the signpost, or Bunavullin, if you believe my map! When I get nearer, and can read the road sign, it definitely says Drimnin.
Dark clouds have been drifting across the sky, but the sun is still shining intermittently. I stare across at Tobermory, and realise I can see the end of the Isle of Mull. That next headland, across the gap, must be… I swing my rucksack off my back and get out my map… what is it?
That far headland is not actually on my current OS map. I check my Garmin instead and, according to my Garmin, it’s the tip of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. The most westerly point on mainland Britain. Wow! Another important milestone.
But, will I ever reach it? My progress is painfully slow.
I’m walking through Drimnin now. Nothing much here. I’d noticed a post office (PO) on the map, and hoped I might be able to buy a drink or a snack. But the post office turns out to be a shed – possibly the smallest post office I’ve ever seen! No room for queues.
It’s closed. Of course.
The road is narrow and the tarmac uneven. A sign warns me that the route is unsuitable for caravans, and I think of my lovely Beast. Oh, I think he could get down here OK, but he’s a campervan, not a caravan.
Well, here IS a caravan. Abandoned? Or maybe somebody’s temporary home? Poor sad old thing.
I reach the crossroads, the place where I should have caught the bus yesterday. The sign to the left says Seaview and Bunavullin. Oh, so that’s where Bunavullin is.
I turn left, down the Bunavullin road, which meanders past a few houses and soon drops down to the shore, where it winds around the edge of a pretty little bay.
The Bunavullin road is a very short road. I soon reach the end of the tarmac, walk past the last house on the road, and pick up a footpath. This crosses over a river via a little bridge, and rejoins the B849.
Only a hundred metres left to go. I can see the slipway ahead, which marks the end of the B849.
On the way round to the slipway, I pass an old, red telephone box. It’s being used as a mini library – a book exchange. I’ve seen quite a few old phone boxes used in this way. Great idea.
A private lane leads off to the right, and I notice a footpath signpost to Doirlinn. Good. That’s the route I’m going to take tomorrow. ‘TAKE CARE’ warns a smaller notice. ‘You are entering remote and sparsely-populated, potentially dangerous mountain country.‘
Oh dear. Potentially dangerous. And, even worse, the sign goes on to say:
‘Please ensure that you are adequately experienced and equipped to complete your journey without assistance.’
This makes me even more nervous. Am I adequately equipped? Am I experienced enough? I never feel that I am.
Onwards, to the end of the road, where another sign says ‘End of public road. Turning place only.’ There’s a piece of flat grass, a little shed, and a slipway.
A cold wind is blowing and the sun has gone in. It’s too cold to sit outside, so I sit inside the hut to eat my snack lunch. A sign on the wall tells me this is a passenger and parcel service ferry landing, although I don’t believe the ferries run anymore. The place is now owned by a community trust.
Behind the hut is a strange monument dedicated to Charles Maclean of Drimnin, who was killed at Culloden in 1746. The death was long ago, but the monument looks relatively new.
It’s time to turn round and walk back to my car, but I decide to take a detour through the Drimnin estate. Very pleasant, although the gravel tracks are tough on my feet. I’ve had 3 days of tarmac walking, and they’re feeling a little sore.
Back at the crossroads, I note the point where the bus should have picked me up yesterday, if I’d been on time. And I see another footpath sign.
It points to a ‘Heritage Path’ called the ‘Bunavullin Coffin Road’. Rather frustratingly, the sign doesn’t tell me where the path ends, and it’s not clear from my map.
I’ve made good progress this morning, and so I have some time and energy to spare. I go exploring up the road to find the coffin route. Up a hill, and the route goes off to the right. Here’s another sign. “Barr, by post track. 8 km.”
Post track? Is this the same as the coffin route? And where on earth is Barr? I pull out my OS map, but can’t find a village called Barr.
Anyway, it’s time to head back down the hill, to rejoin the good old B849 and plod back to Lochaline. I make rapid progress, and try not to stop to take any more photographs, but sometimes I can’t resist. What a fantastic view.
After I’ve gone a couple of miles, I hear a pattering sound and a snuffling noise, just behind me. I swing round, and catch sight of a dog on my heels, but he quickly swings round too, and gets behind me again.
We spin in circles a few times, before I realise he’s not going to bite my ankles. He’s just a nervous dog.
I can’t make out where he’s come from, because there is no house in sight, and I’m a bit perturbed because he begins to follow me. Every time I stop, he stops. Every time I set off again, he follows at my heels. Oh dear! Please go home, little doggy. I can’t look after you.
After a few hundred yards of playing Grandma’s Footsteps we’re overtaken by a couple of Lycra-clad male cyclists. The dog takes off running after them.
Whew. He must have been with the cyclists, I think. But when I round the next corner, I find him waiting for me.
He accompanies me for about half a mile, sometimes scouting ahead, sometimes following at my heels. A car is forced to slow down because the dog is in the middle of the road, and the driver looks at me accusingly, because I’m not controlling my dog. I flag the car to a halt, and ask the driver if he knows who the dog belongs to. He doesn’t.
I’ve resigned myself to taking the dog back to the Lochaline Hotel. No doubt the locals will track down the owner. But suddenly, the animal stops, sniffs the air, and sets off walking back the way we’ve come. It’s a brisk, purposeful walk, and he soon disappears up the road.
I don’t know whether to be relieved or sad. I enjoyed the company. Long-distance walking can be a lonely business.
Miles walked today = 13.5 miles (only 6 in the right direction)
Total around coast = 3,997.5 miles